Today we speak to Royston Tan, one of Singapore’s prized film director.
Yanda: Tell us what have you been busy with?
Royston: This month has been the craziest month ever in my career as I’ve had 6 overlapping filming projects back to back. I’m currently working on “The Ghost of Capitol Theatre” – a film installation for the Singapore biennale in October. I’m also preparing for the world premiere of my new work, ‘South of South” in the Busan film festival.
Say, does photography play a major influence on you?
Yes it does. Film is actually 25 running photographs in a second. I’m constantly capturing images in my brain everywhere I go. I’m intrigued by both colors and compositions.
Which project are you most proud of and why?
This is a tough question but I guess I’m still learning every day. Hopefully the next one!
Do you believe in education?
Yes I do. That said, I do not believe in conformity. Everyone is unique and it is important to celebrate differences.
It’s sometimes said that after graduating, the hard part is actually still ahead. How were yours when you first started out?
It has been the case – you are suddenly in the real world where you have to start all over again to prove yourself to society. It takes sheer determination and passion. Most of the time, I find it’s the inner struggle much more than the external factors that’s really tough.
I started at 19. I wanted to be a director but in reality you need to be mentor for a few years before becoming one. There was no one to mentor me, so I took on the job as a coffee boy to serve the big-time directors on shoots. I was paid $50 for 14 hour shoots a day, but it offered me the opportunity to get close to the director and observe how they work and visualise.
Can taste be taught or nurtured?
Taste can be nurtured with an open mind and exposure.
And what about hunger?
In terms of hungry, you can’t flog a dead horse to run.
Old Romances, a film directed by Eva Tang, Victric Thng and Royston Tan. Designed by &Larry.
4:30. Poster designed by &Larry.
Do you google yourself or read your reviews?
No, I hardly have time to rest but occasionally my friends will send me constructive reviews of my works.
How do you prototype your ideas?
I observe life and translate that into emotions.
881. Poster designed by &Larry.
When was the last time you felt challenged?
This is a good question. I was really challenged when someone from the papers commented that there were only two kinds of filmmakers in Singapore, one who made films for the public to watch and the other who made angry, gang films such as Eric Khoo and Royston Tan – films that they could only watch themselves, and not films of any commercial value! With that I went to Australia for 2 weeks and wrote 881!
If you can own a film of others, what would it be?
Ilo ilo by Anthony Chen. With Ilo Ilo, I feel like I finally have a Singaporean film that I can be very proud of to share with the rest of the world.
Check out Royston’s contribution on agnes b for the Snap Cardigan Photo Exhibition that is happening now till 14th of September 2013 at Atrium 1, Paragon Shopping Centre, Singapore. Special thanks to Daryl and Karen of Bless for facilitating this.
agnes b for the Snap Cardigan Photo Exhibition